Trip Advisor just dropped its sixth annual Traveler’s Choice Awards, the highest honor the site bestows upon hotels, restaurants, destinations, beaches, museums, landmarks, airlines, vacation rentals, and attractions. Currently, these honors stand alone as the only travel industry awards that result from millions of opinions and reviews from travelers worldwide. And, given the sway that Trip Advisor has over its fanbase, these awards are highly coveted.
Winners are determined by both reviews and ratings left on the Trip Advisor site, which reaches over 32 million people monthly. But, that doesn’t mean that they simply hand the top honors to the people with the best numbers. The substance of reviews is taken into account in a big way.
This year, 399 restaurants out of the 4.3 million worldwide made the cut for the fine dining “best of” list. We have listed the top ten below. If you follow the fine dining scene, delight in exceptional cuisine, or watch Top Chef, you will know at least a few of these names. The surprise may be the inclusion of some mid-sized cities. Charleston and Santa Fe are often overlooked in lists of this kind. That’s where crowd-sourcing helps: Professional reviewers have a value, and we appreciate their experience and discerning tastes. But, the popular vote is important, too, no matter what Anthony Bourdain says.
10. Merriman’s (Kapalua, Hawaii)
This is the signature establishment of Peter Merriman, a pioneer of Hawaiian regional cuisine. That means diners are supporting local farmers and ranchers, as well as the local economy by eating at his spot. The menu highlights smart sourcing, with ingredients like Big Island chevre, Hirabara Farms baby fennel, Otani Farms green beans, and Kahua Ranch lamb, raised in accordance with the restaurant’s specifications. People are urged to order wok-charred ahi, which originated at Merriman’s. It’s seared beautifully on the outside and a pure sashimi on the inside. Or, go for the prime bone-in New York steak grilled to order.